By HEY YOU follow Jun 22, 12:58am 2 links 189 views 3 comments
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Baghdadi,ascended a pulpit in 2014 and declared a caliphate after his fighterstook control of Mosul and swept through other areas of northern Iraqand Syria, according to the NYT.Thelandmark structure, which was built in the 12th century, had alreadybeen targeted by the Islamic State when it first occupied the Iraqicity in 2014.Accordingto Radio
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Abu Bakr dead? Unlikely, but if so another ‘caliph’ will emerge Many are doubtful about the claims that the Islamic State's figurehead is no more. But so long as the organization's ideology is not eradicated others will take up the cause.
Iran appears to be 100% certain that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed “caliph” of the Islamic State (ISIS) is dead. Its IRIB news agency has distributed a photo of the terror guru, lying dead — a lifeless corpse – in al-Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital along the Euphrates River. Sceptics assert, however, that the man in the photograph is not in fact Abu Bakr.
At the weekend, Ali Shirazi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, said: “The death of this terrorist al-Baghdadi is certain.” As good as that may sound, it is probably also untrue. Over the past three years, at least twelve similar reports have claimed his death and all of them have proven to be false.
More reliable security sources in Baghdad have confirmed to Asia Times, however, that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive, and hiding in the countryside of al-Raqqa. “You will see him soon on videotape, addressing what remains of his followers from a secret hideout, similar to how Osama Bin Laden appeared in the caves of Afghanistan after 9-11,” is the prediction of Lahur Talabani, commander of intelligence for the Kurdistan Regional Government. “Abu Bakr still has a long way to go. His role is not over yet, but we will catch him and kill him. When we do, you will see it on television, just like you watched the hanging of Saddam Hussein. In the end, he will either be killed or captured. He will not be able to remain underground forever.”
According to the same Iraqi source, Abu Bakr left Mosul for Syria on 11 March 2017, in order to lead his troops in their battle against US-backed Kurdish warriors in al-Raqqa. With Mosul down and al-Raqqa now on the verge of collapse, he has very few destinations to choose from. He could either move back into Albukamal in Syria, which is very risky, or into Hawijah or al-Qaim in Iraq. Gone are the days when ISIS controlled territory larger than the size of Finland and Denmark, and with a population of six million people. Once bestriding the 600-km Syrian-Iraqi border, the area under its control has shrunk from 90,800 square kilometers in January 2015 to 36,200 today.
But does Abu Bakr’s death, fake or otherwise, really mean anything? The man founded a terror school that has surpassed his own renown.
The point is that anybody can repeat the same trick that Abu Bakr pulled off in 2014 — self-proclaiming himself “caliph” of the Muslim world. The fact that he was able to pay impressive salaries from stolen oil money in both Syria and Iraq helped, of course. But if this Abu Bakr is dead, another will emerge, not too far from now, so long as the ideology of ISIS is not eradicated.
Islamic State leader Baghdadi almost certainly alive - Kurdish security official Reuters Exclusive
A top Kurdish counter-terrorism official said on Monday he was 99 percent sure that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after reports that he had been killed.
"Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive," Lahur Talabany told Reuters in an interview.
Don't forget his roots go back to al Qaeda days in Iraq. He was hiding from security services. He knows what he is doing."
Iraqi security forces have ended three years of Islamic State rule in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and the group is under growing pressure in Raqqa - both strongholds in the militants' crumbling self-proclaimed caliphate.
Still, Talabany said Islamic State was shifting tactics despite low morale and it would take three or four years to eliminate the group.
After defeat, Islamic State would wage an insurgency and resemble al-Qaeda on "steroids", he said.
The future leaders of Islamic State were expected to be intelligence officers who served under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the men credited with devising the group's strategy.
After Mosul, Islamic State digs in for guerrilla warfare
Islamic State militants began reinventing themselves months before U.S.-backed Iraqi forces ended their three-year reign of terror in Mosul, putting aside the dream of a modern-day caliphate and preparing the ground for a different fight.
Intelligence and local officials said that, a few months ago, they noticed a growing stream of commanders and fighters flowing out of the city to the Hamrin mountains in northeast Iraq which offer hideouts and access to four Iraqi provinces.
Some were intercepted but many evaded security forces and began setting up bases for their new operations.
What comes next may be a more complex and daunting challenge for Iraqi security forces once they finish celebrating a hard-won victory in Mosul, the militants' biggest stronghold.
Intelligence and security officials are bracing for the kind of devastating insurgency al Qaeda waged following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, pushing Iraq into a sectarian civil war which peaked in 2006-2007.
"They are digging in. They have easy access to the capital," Lahur Talabany, a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official, told Reuters. As part of the U.S.-led coalition, he is at the forefront of efforts to eliminate Islamic State.
"I believe we have tougher days coming.”